SONIA DELAUNAY (1885-1979)
SONIA DELAUNAY (1885-1979)
SONIA DELAUNAY (1885-1979)
2 More
SONIA DELAUNAY (1885-1979)

Rythme-Couleur (no. 132)

SONIA DELAUNAY (1885-1979)
Rythme-Couleur (no. 132)
signed and dated ‘Sonia Delaunay 1953’ (lower right); signed again 'Sonia Delaunay' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
44 ¾ x 57 ½ in. (113.5 x 146 cm.)
Painted in 1953
The artist, until 1979.
Galerie Istvàn Schlégl, Zurich.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1987.
Bielefeld, Städtisches Kunsthaus, Sonia Delaunay, September - October 1958, no. 207, p. 44 (illustrated p. 47).
Turin, Galleria Civica d'arte Moderna, Robert e Sonia Delaunay, March - April 1960, no. 95.
Bad Godesberg, Galerie Schütze, Sonia Delaunay, May – June 1965.
Saint-Paul de Vence, Fondation Maeght, Dix ans d'art vivant, 1945-1955, April - May 1966, no. 30.
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Rétrospective Sonia Delaunay, 1967 - 1968, no. 156, p. 76.
Paris, Galerie Denis René, Sonia Delaunay, November 1968, no. 17 (illustrated).
Nuremberg, Kunsthalle, Biennale, Konstruktive Kunst: Elemente und Prinzipien, April - August 1969 (illustrated).
New York, Gimpel Gallery, Sonia Delaunay, November 1969, no. 10 (with incorrect dimensions).
Turin, Galleria d’Arte Martano, Sonia Delaunay, October - November 1970, no. 18.
Rome, Il Collezionista d'Arte Contemporanea, Sonia Delaunay: Opere 1908-1970, December 1970 - January 1971, no. 14, pp. 48 & 92 (illustrated p. 49).
Nancy, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Sonia Delaunay, Robert Delaunay, June – September 1972, no. 159, p. 28 (illustrated).
Tokyo, National Museum of Modern Art, Robert / Sonia Delaunay, November - December 1979, no. 77 (illustrated).
Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Sonia Delaunay: A Retrospective, February – March 1980, no. 23, p. 117 (illustrated p. 185); this exhibition later travelled to Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, April – June 1980; Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, June – August 1980; Atlanta, The High Museum of Art, September - October 1980; New York, The Grey Art Gallery, New York University, November – December 1980; Chicago, Art Institute, January – March 1981; and Montreal, Musée d’art Contemporain, April – May 1981.
Pori, Finland, Art Museum, Formes vivantes - Ranskan nykytaieen perinne 1951-1983, December 1983, no. 37 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Helsinki, Kunsthalle, January 1984; and Malmö, Konsthall, March - May 1984.
Further Details
Jean-Louis Delaunay and Richard Riss have confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Brought to you by

Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

For Sonia Delaunay, colour was an artistic obsession and passion, an element she believed held the power to evoke both the rhythms of the universe around us and the vibrations of the inner soul, at once something essential and elemental, yet mysterious and unknowable. Rythme-Couleur (no. 132) is a bold, large-scale expression of Delaunay’s unique approach to colour and sensuous form of abstraction, its dynamic space infused with rich tones that simultaneously radiate and pulse with different energies. Since her first experiments in abstraction, Delaunay believed that the interplay of pure, geometric forms and vibrant colour together could create a lyrical visual language capable of rendering complex psychological and emotive states. Guided by an intuitive sense of creation, she painted directly onto the canvas in a spontaneous and even impulsive act, without recourse to drawing or even a specific, preconceived idea, finding a freedom of expression ‘in tune with the vibrations, the life itself of colour’ (quoted in S. Baron, Sonia Delaunay: The Life of an Artist, London, 1995, p. 199).

Incorporating a configuration of circles, rectangles, squares and triangles in an intricate pattern, Rythme-Couleur (no. 132) exemplifies the direct, spontaneous, and simultaneist approach to painting that Delaunay had developed over her long career. Though consistently dedicated to this colour-based schema of geometric abstraction, she also sought to find new innovations and discoveries within it through the years. As she explained: ‘One must preserve a spontaneous contact with one’s inner self. Painting must never degenerate into habit. An artist is constantly working, even when she is not in front of his easel. And each time she does paint she must seek to express some new idea – or rather, her effort must result in a more perfect rendering of what she is trying to express throughout her life’ (quoted in J. Damase, Sonia Delaunay, London, 1972, p. 276). Following the Second World War, Delaunay’s painting showed a rejuvenated engagement with the central concepts and ideas that had shaped and driven her creativity for decades. In Rythme-Couleur (no. 132), for example, she explores a more varied range of hues, from brilliant shades of lime green to soft teal, varying tones of blue and yellow and, perhaps most notably, passages of black, which had only recently begun to take on a new importance in her work.

The tension within Delaunay’s composition springs from the careful arrangement of these unexpected, often disjointed abstract forms and the interaction of the various hues when seen alongside one another, each shape appearing to be held in place by the strange, internal energy of the painting. As a result, works such as Rythme-Couleur (no. 132) showcase Delaunay’s innate ability to find a sense of order amid the potentially chaotic play of shapes and hues. In an artist’s statement written towards the end of her career, she described the endless variations these forms and colours offered her: ‘A vision of infinite richness awaits the person who knows how to see the relations of colours, their contrasts and dissonances, and the impact of one colour on another. As in written poetry, it is not the aggregation of words which counts, but the mystery of creation which yields or does not yield feeling. As in poetry, so with colours. It is the mystery of interior life which liberates, radiates, and communicates. Beginning there, a new language can be freely created’ (quoted in A. Cohen, ed., The New Art of Color: the Writings of Robert and Sonia Delaunay, New York, 1978, pp. 213-214).

Delaunay chose to include Rythme-Couleur (no. 132) in her exhibition at the Städtisches Kunsthalle Bielefeld, in the autumn of 1958 – the artist’s first solo-show in over forty years. It subsequently featured in a number of important exhibitions through the following three decades, including the Nuremberg Biennale in 1969, which was dedicated to Constructivist art, as well as Delaunay’s seminal retrospective, staged shortly after her death, which travelled through North America, from Buffalo to Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and Montreal. Rythme-Couleur (no. 132) was purchased by the present owner in 1987, and has remained unseen in public ever since.

More from 20th / 21st Century: London Evening Sale

View All
View All